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Mychal Thompson argues players should accept 50-50 split

October 20, 2011 | 10:15 am

Mychal ThompsonWith such a multitude of issues preventing the NBA owners and players union from reaching a deal, there's one area that's remained the hardest to work around.

That involves figuring out how to divide the $4.3 billion the league made last season in basketball related-income (BRI). But former Laker and 710 AM commentator Mychal Thompson believes the solution should be pretty simple.

“Sure, the players have to protect their interests ...  but from a player's perspective, if I was in the league now, I’d think a 50-50 split is fair,” Thompson told ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin. “You work out the particulars from there. I don’t see how it cannot be worked out because there’s common ground."

The sides haven't made leeway on this because each percentage point represents about $45 million in player salaries every year. The players agreed to drop from 57% to 53%, a drop from $2.17 billion to $2.09 billion. NBA Commissioner David Stern has also demanded owners make 53% and has only formally offered to go as high as sharing 49%. Two weeks ago, Stern floated the idea of a 50-50 split as something he could seek approval from the owners. Before he had that conversation, however, the players union rejected the idea.

"OK, so [the players] don’t get everything we want, we sort of got all the gravy the last 10 years, now it’s time to readjust, reassess things and we may have to give back some money," Thompson told Helin. "But my goodness, we’re still going to be making a lot of money even if we have to take a 10 to 12 percent pay cut. Even the guys on the high end of the luxury tax. Let’s say you’re making $15 [million] and you’ve got to take a 10 percent pay cut — my goodness young man, you’re still bringing in $13 million bucks. ... I know we all want to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffett someday, but you have to put it in perspective. If now I have to sign a five-year deal for $50 [million] as opposed to $60 [million], I think my life will be just fine.”


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Photo: Mychal Thompson, right, in his Laker days. Credit: Los Angeles Times